Producer Responsibility


Producer Responsibility (PR) is a key element of the WEEE Directive and there are several ways in which this can be implemented. The current system for Household WEEE compliance in the UK is based on Collective Producer Responsibility (CPR) and is a system whereby all producers can contribute proportionately (based on market share and type of equipment) to the costs of recycling. Variations of Producer Responsibility are explored below.

Producer Responsibility is defined as a business-led approach to reducing the impact of waste products on the environment, in particular by reducing waste, and by increasing reuse, recovery and recycling rates. It is about getting businesses - those who manufacture, distribute or sell products or materials - to take a greater share of the responsibility for what happens to those products or materials when they reach the end of their lives and become waste.  (BIS)

In contrast, Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR), as originally envisaged, was intended to "create an economic incentive for producers to adapt the design of their products to the prerequisites of sound waste management. IPR was seen as a means of encouraging the design and production of electrical and electronic equipment which takes into full account and facilitates the repair, possible upgrading, reuse, disassembly, and recycling of WEEE’’.  (UK WAB)

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a concept where manufacturers and importers of products should bear a significant degree of responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products throughout the product life-cycle. Producers accept their responsibility when designing their products to minimise life-cycle environmental impacts, and when accepting legal, physical or socio-economic responsibility for environmental impacts that cannot be eliminated by design. (OECD).  

Producer Responsibility (PR)

Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR)

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

Collective Producer Responsibility (CPR)

With collective producer responsibility there is no differentiation of the recycling costs according to how easy the product is to recycle. The costs to the producer are based upon the market share of the producer. Therefore the costs of recycling will be the same for a product that has been designed to be easier to recycle, and a product that is much more difficult to disassemble and recycle. Therefore collective responsibility does not provide an incentive to a producer to design products to be easier to recycle.  (UK WAB)

The mechanism by which PR / IPR / CPR or EPR is implemented clearly needs to take into account a number of factors;

For example; the business case for IPR must satisfy the following four imperatives that must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and tangible.

These are known as Commercial , Environmental, Political & Consumer Imperatives. Each of these imperatives requires further consideration during  the generation of final policies as these are implemented.

For further information including a discussion paper issued by Government on coherence of Producer Responsibility across regimes see here

Example (one interpretation);